Enslaved @ Reggies, Chicago (US)

ENSLAVED / PALLBEARER / ROYAL THUNDER / ANCIENT VVISDOM

Date: 03rd February, 2013
Venue: Reggies Rock Club
Ticket: $18 (€13)
Promoter: n/a


DimK: Of course and the snowy weather can mesh up your plans, especially if those involve a 40 minutes drive to get to the venue. And in this case the fact that it was Sunday and the roads around the Windy city were almost empty did not do much. I have to admit though that this cold and snowy weather created the best atmosphere to welcome one of Norway’s Black Metal finest ENSLAVED. Ok, I know that this band does not sound as it did 20 years ago but it would be crazy and strange if it did… Will you be the same person after 20 years? The gig started half an hour after the doors opening but since we had already scheduled an interview with ENSLAVED’s singer/bassist, we had to sacrifice ANCIENT VVISDOM with the coldest of hearts. At least we were glad to listen to their setlist closer “The Opposition” that just happened to be our favorite, so cheers to that!

MariaV: After the amazing but short warming up from the Dark Lord messengers ANCIENT VVISDOM, I paid a visit to the merch table where vinyl records, patches, t-shirts from the 4 bands where for grabs and I have to admit it was a bit difficult to invest my money wisely. Plus, I had to deal with the difficulty to reach my initial spot near stage-right, since Reggies was almost packed (yup, it’s definitely good seeing a packed venue these days). Next, in the billing were the infamous Atlanta, Georgia’s female-fronted Doom rockers ROYAL THUNDER, but to tell you the truth I didn’t know what to expect, since their debut “CVI” did not do the trick to my ears. And occasions like this one is when magik happens, simply because it feels amazing when a band manages to change your opinion with a live performance. ROYAL THUNDER did that and then added some more with a powerful set taking fully advantage of the given time. Even if this is a three-piece band, the stage looked full and I guess the constant moving back and forth of the band's members had something to do with this. It seemed that Mlny Parsonz and guitarist Josh Weaver were lost in a weird vortex, being absolutely focused on the music but no matter what they blew us away. Hands down, “Whispering World” and the HELLACOPTERS-esque guitar-driven “No Good” were some of the selist’s highlights with the driving main riff and Mlny’s almost Janis Joplin way of singing. I tell you, her bass work (without using a pick) and her scream-y way of singing fell in the zone and most powerful. Well, now I have to re-check their debut, since it seems that I have a brand new perspective, but that feels good!

ROYAL THUNDER

Royal Thunder @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Royal Thunder @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Royal Thunder @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Royal Thunder @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Royal Thunder @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Royal Thunder @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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MariaV: It was great to see young faces inside the almost packed Reggies since the bands in this billing cannot be considered as youth-friendly. Following that train of thought I could not predict how they would react to PALLBEARER’s heavy Doom Metal. So, right on schedule, the band from Little Rock, Arkansas got onstage and filled the room with the ultra-distorted bass driven Doom Metal tunes with a high volume. I almost lost my earplugs as the heavy-as-hell Doom Metal stormed from the venue’s speakers. But for some reason, the vocals did not make it to the final mix (maybe this is because I was in the front rows), so I missed some of the atmosphere PALLBEARER deliver way successfully in the album. Still, I did like “Devoid Of Redemption” and the slow as death “An Offering Of Grief” although I have to confess that I did not enjoy the show as much as I did in the first installment of the ‘Days Of The Doomed’ fest. I think that in order to fully enjoy PALLBEARER live, you have to be in the right mood and not be destructed by other bands on the billing (especially if these other bands range between groovier and more up-tempo velocities).

PALLBEARER

Pallbearer @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Pallbearer @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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DimK: The time for ENSLAVED had come and if you’d ask me I’d say it was a sold-out show, so it was impossible to move and take pictures since there is no photo-pit in Reggies and personally I don’t like sitting in front of people who just want to enjoy the show. Having said this, I’d like to advice the other fellow concert photo-shooters that using a powerful flash is a no-go for the people around them and the band members. But enough with the whining, since it is always the music that matters the most.

After clearing up the stage and the short but required soundcheck, the lights went out and the Norsemen stormed Reggies stage with the self-titled track of “Riitiir” spreading waves of enthusiasm to the gathered metalheads. I have to admit that I did not expect such a reaction from the US audience but at the same time it proved that the Norse band has a strong following in this side of the Atlantic. Even if the setlist opener is not the classic headbanger, it took us by storm since it was flawlessly executed, plus the band members seemed to be extremely happy playing live in Chicago. “It’s good to be home” Grutle Kjellson said, branding Chicago as their second hometown, since ENSLAVED did here their US live debut appearance, sometime during 1995. It was kind of funny watching Grutle asking the older looking guys if they were in that show...discriminating by the color of the hairs...

The sound was loud but crystal clear so the dynamics of the new song were delivered the best way possible and personally I did enjoy Herbrand Larsen’s clean vocals and the rich sound enhanced by the keyboard melodies. Even if “Riitiir” is a complex and hence a demanding album, the long in time duration songs worked better live, fueled by the performing band members. Grutle was spearheading the show provoking the front rows to join the onstage festivities having as a powerful ‘partner in crime’ the shirtless Arve Isdal who I think gained a couple cheers more due to his doings with AUDREY HORNE. It would be a real shame if I did not give kudos to the human-drum machine Cato Bekkevold who tormented the drum skins with deadly precision without losing an inch on his inner energy meter. Ivar Bjørnson was the band’s silent force who kept his onstage spot with minimum movement but with a huge smile on his face reflecting the top mood of the band. The guitar parts of “Ethica Odini” blew me away while the older “Convoys To Nothingness” was a very good reason for me to headbang and for the young members of the crowd to form a mosh-pit. Ok, I have to admit that the older songs sounded more powerful having the guitars in the frontlines and especially “Allfǫðr Oðinn” blew our eardrums away paying homage to the band’s early 90s days when things were a lot different and the Norse Black Metal wave was on the making.

“Now we are gonna play an old song; it’s actually 43 years old” said Grutle Kjellson, as a mini-prologue to LED ZEPPELIN’s “Immigrant Song”. Having a cover song in a setlist from a band that counts two decades of existence is most of the times unacceptable but in this I can make an exception, simply because ENSLAVED have managed to bring their sound in the LED ZEPPELIN original. The mix of the growling main vocals and the backing clean ones was simply awesome, proving that ENSLAVED is one of these bands that whatever they touch turns to gold. And this is how the regular setlist ended seeing the band saying goodnight but with the obvious intention to come back. After all, there is no band to deny the Chicago’s metalheads’ requests for a couple more songs. So, without further ado, Cato Bekkevold returned to his drum kit and took sometime for a solo. Despite his killer performance through the night, this drum-solo was nothing special and came close to verge of losing the already gathered momentum, but fortunately it was a short one. Everything was back into business with “Isa” during which there was some singing along putting a fitting ending to a powerful and beyond doubt performance.

After the show, no one complained about the additional inches of snow, waiting for us outside the venue, because after all, it was the perfect scenery for that ENSLAVED show.

ENSLAVED setlist:

01. “Riitiir”
02. “Ruun”
03. “The Watcher”
04. “Thoughts Like Hammers”
05. “Ethica Odini”
06. “Roots Of The Mountain”
07. “Materal”
08. “Convoys To Nothingness”
09. “As Fire Swept Clean The Earth”
10. “Allfǫðr Oðinn” / “Slaget I Skogen Bortenfor”
11. “Immigrant Song”
12. Drum solo
13. “Isa”

ENSLAVED

Enslaved @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Enslaved @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Enslaved @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Enslaved @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)
Enslaved @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Enslaved @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Enslaved @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos) Enslaved @ Reggies Rock Club (US) (photos by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos)

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